Ideation with Kids


This great article was shared with me. It has some very practical tips on ideating with kids, by making just a few tweaks to typical ideation methods.

Schedule lots of breaks.
Whereas I recommend a break every two hours for adults, you need a break every hour for 8-11 year olds and every 90 minutes for 12-18 year olds.

Help keep them stay still.
I know this sounds silly, but kids will swing around in chairs and can’t sit still, especially boys. You’ll avoid that distraction with chairs that don’t spin or have wheels. Ideally, have lower chairs where kids’ feet can touch the ground. It physically “grounds” them as well as helps them not feel so small. All that being said, don’t stress about their fidgeting—it’s natural.

Pay attention to blood sugar.
Provide snacks—that is the BEST way to change the energy of the room, but beware of high sugar snacks where you’ll have big blood sugar spikes and dips.

Talk to them in an age-appropriate way, but don’t be condescending.
Talk TO them, not LIKE them. Be yourself and authentic, but don’t resort to gimmicks to relate to them. Lay off the thesaurus and use age-appropriate words.

At the beginning, clarify that you are not a teacher and this is not a classroom.
Kids this age are absolutely wired for school. They see the moderator as the authority and are looking for the “RIGHT” answer. Spend some time debunking that and make sure that they know that you are looking for THEIR answers and ANY answers are the right ones. Use humor to reinforce that you are in charge, but not the teacher who will be grading them.

Over-emphasize the process and what you want from them.
Tell them the process at the beginning and reference it several times through the session. Remind them often (seriously, like every 10 minutes) what kinds of output you want out of them. It helps them to know where they are and what they are supposed to be doing.

Link these thoughts with IDEOs Methods JR cards and my Ideate Like you’re 8 tips and you’ve got some real fire power.